As Christianity spread through the Mediterranean world it became evident that those who followed Christ where going to face some tough challenges. It caused controversy and ridicule from all sides;

Pagans and Roman considered Christians to be atheistic because they didn’t believe in Greek or Roman gods. However the most surprising ridicule for them at that time, in my opinion, came from Jews who claimed to follow God yet were stuck in their rituals of the law. These Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah but more than that they actually made a point of excluding Christians as we will see later on.

This book of Hebrews was potentially written by Paul but many others have been named and sent to this community of Hebrew believers who were discouraged and who were at the point of abandoning Christianity and going back to Judaism. This wasn’t as a result of the abuse we associate with being a Christian here in NI. This community of believers would have lost everything, Family, Friends, Jobs and their place in society, which was of high importance in this culture. Persecution was common.  Most of this book focus on how Christ is greater than the sacrificial system, which was directly opposing to what the legalist Jews believed. Written before the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70, was to comfort and reassure those believers that Christianity, that being lives dedicated to Christ, was the only true way.

HEBREWS 13:10-14

10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 

11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 

12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 

13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 

14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 

We can partake ///

10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.

This verse is referring to the law stated in Lev 6:16-18 it says.

16 And the rest of it Aaron and his sons shall eat. It shall be eaten unleavened in a holy place. In the court of the tent of meeting they shall eat it. 

17 It shall not be baked with leaven. I have given it as their portion of my food offerings. It is a thing most holy, like the sin offering and the guilt offering. 

18 Every male among the children of Aaron may eat of it, as decreed forever throughout your generations, from the Lord’s food offerings. Whatever touches them shall become holy.”

The Sons of Aaron, the Aaronites, were allowed to eat of the grain offering. The Aaronites were the descendants of Aaron from the tribe of Levi meaning these people were chosen by God to become the priests in the tabernacle. So these priests could eat of the offering and they would of became holy.

This was how it was set out for offerings in OT law, for Israel. This would of still been what the legalist Jews would of held to in Hebrews. This verse however revels that these priests have no right to eat at a certain alter yet we do. Why is this? First of all this alter is Christ. This however is not actually referring to Christians actually physically eating Christ, which was a main factor in why Rome persecuted Christians because they though Christians practiced this, but it refers to how Christians have a right as Sons and Daughters of Christ to partake of all that he has to offer. These priests that followed the law so strictly and devotedly had missed the fulfillment of the law, Jesus Christ, continuing in their ways believing that the law saved them, therefore missing out in being part of the family of God. They wanted to be saved through the law which meant that as a result they dismissed Christ as the Messiah, the  One who would fulfill the law, because they wanted it their way.

This brings up the unavoidable fact that without Christ you cannot be a part of Gods family. Not because God doesn’t want us but because we don’t want him, because naturally we are born separated from God by sin. Look how close the legalistic Jews were to Jesus, following the law, in many cases when Jesus was on earth the religious people of the day chatted and confronted Jesus, yet ultimately not believing in him, even crucifying him. They missed him because they didn’t want him they wanted their own laws. I want to challenge you as we go further, to step away from what you think will save you. To take a step back from what your building your life on whither it be money, charity our your own self-righteousness and to look for Jesus honestly. Ask him to open your eyes to him.

Christian there is a beautiful reality that we can realize when we read this verse. We have rights as children of the King to partake of this alter, to experience Christ. To be blessed by him and serve him but most of all be saved by him because of his death and resurrection. We have spiritually taken part in Christ, as Gods royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), and became holy. We are Justified. In the Bible study we are learning about Justification. We are holy, pure, perfect in the eyes of God because he looks on us and because we are saved, God sees Christ.

Jesus is the Messiah ///

11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 

Back to Leviticus

Lev 16:23-28 -

 23 “Then Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting and shall take off the linen garments that he put on when he went into the Holy Place and shall leave them there. 

24 And he shall bathe his body in water in a holy place and put on his garments and come out and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people and make atonement for himself and for the people. 

25 And the fat of the sin offering he shall burn on the altar. 

26 And he who lets the goat go to Azazel shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. 

27 And the bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. Their skin and their flesh and their dung shall be burned up with fire. 

28 And he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. 

This was the law for a sin offering, that the priest take off his linen he wore in the Holy Place, wash, put on his garments and offer the offering for sin, for the people and himself. The fat of the animal would be burned on the alter and then the body would be carried outside the camp, along with the skin, and burnt. This was because the fat was seen to be the best part of the animal and the remains were seen to be the most sinful or dirty part of the animal. Therefore as it was carried outside the camp and burned, it signified sin being carry outside the camp and done away with, forgiven.

The phrase “outside the camp” caught my attention. These Jews would of understood that to  be outside the camp meant something bad. Outside the city of Jerusalem was Gehenna, actually below the southern wall of Jerusalem. In Rabbinical Judaism, Gehenna was seen as a depiction of Hell. Also outside the city gates is where disease was located and were the sick were shunned to. Lepers would have sat here. As a person to be here was to be seen as unclean or dirty in these times. Calvary was also outside the city. The site for Roman punishment for doing wrong against the government, crucifixion. So in its basic form being outside the gate was bad.

Now this is were it gets radical.

12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.

Jesus suffered outside the gate to make clean the people through his blood. A clear image of the OT law. Jesus fulfilled the OT laws surrounding sacrifice. Jesus was the sin offering, literally. The sacrifice for sin for all, for us, for you. This means that Jesus is the Messiah, the promised One. He is not a fairytale, a figment of some group of peoples imagination He is real and he died to save us.

The wonderful news for you if you haven’t given your life to Christ is this. He died for you, God worked out this plan to save you, God sent his Son into time for you if you trust in him, God made the law, gave the prophesy’s and foretold of Christ to save you to ultimately bring glory to him. God worked out this intricate plan of salvation to prove, to show us that Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and therefore through Him showing the way to be forgiven and justified before God.

Christian, this is such a fantastic thing for us. It shows us that we have the firmest foundation to stand on because the fact that Jesus fulfilled the law shows us that the One we trust is real. Jesus is alive, the fact that Jesus is the fulfillment of the law means he is true. Jesus happened, his promises are true and he lives today. Thats exciting. The implications for this in our lives is massive.

The result of faith in Christ ///

How can we bottle up this message, that Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of the law? That he is the promised One sent from heaven to save us? We can’t. Grasping even a little of Jesus will redefine our lives and redirect our thoughts. The final verses give us a glimpse of this.

13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 

14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 

We must go out with him and bear the shame he bore, not because he is shameful but because he is true. This truth demands our all not because it is shameful but because it is true. We will suffer, but he is true.

We don’t seek an easy existence here because we look forward to the city that is to come. Our home. This is not our home, we focus so much on wealth, comfort, the ideal existence and forget we have it. We will return home to heaven someday to see Jesus, to see God. Our job here however as Christians is to tell of our home, our Father, our Saviour. Nothing less. Our job title is “I am a Christian – I tell others about Jesus”. Christian we are placed here on earth, we are saved, not to sit and chill. Not to baton down the hatches and wait for heaven. Not to kick back or store up riches here on earth. We are to go outside the city, bearing the shame and reproach Jesus bore in order to show people Christ. Remember that outside the city were the things that people weren’t comfortable dealing with. Sickness, disease, execution, Gehenna. Yet this is where we are to go to to tell of the Good News. It will not be glamorous.

Its this good news that I want to leave with you. Without Christ we can never expect to partake of him because or sin and as a result we can never be forgiven, therefore we must realize that the punishment for this is hell, but Jesus saves. There is no need to experience hell when we can experience Christ. No need to experience eternal death when we can experience eternal life in Jesus. God did all this out sheer love for us, to save us and bring glory to him. He can save, He is not hampered by anything. Trust in him, he is all together lovely, he fabulous, he loves, he cares and saves. Jesus died for our sin, in our place, so he could save us from hell and death, bringing us into new life with him, bringing glory to himself.

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